One new community case of Covid-19 has been announced in New Zealand today as the country prepares for the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine programme.
Today's new case is a household contact of three community cases announced on Wednesday.
The person had previously returned a negative test, taken on Monday, and has been isolating at home and is in the process of transferring to the Auckland quarantine facility.
There is one additional member of the household who has returned a negative test result but is also being transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
Genome sequencing has been completed for one of the three cases announced on Wednesday and shows a clear link to other cases in the Auckland cluster.
Health officials continue to investigate the source of the infection and previous cases have been reviewed for a similar genome.
A possible genomic similarity – but no direct match – involves a guest at the Four Points by Sheraton managed isolation facility in Auckland.
Guests and their household contacts who were at the facility in late December are being contacted by health officials.
Of the 265 people in the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 176 have now been contacted. Of that number, 149 have been assessed and cleared; nine are now overseas; and 18 are being followed up by public health units for further investigation.
Of the 89 people to be contacted, finding services have provided details for 44 and they are being contacted. Finding services are actively pursuing details for the remaining 45 individuals.
ESR and health officials do not consider this a likely source of infection at this stage.
All close contacts associated with the cases households, school and travel group to New Plymouth have since returned negative results.
Contact tracing has identified 128 close contacts associated with all cases in this cluster, aside from the positive cases which have previously been reported. Of these, 112 of the close contacts have returned a negative test result.
The Ministry of Health is now awaiting test results for 16 people: seven from the medical clinic and relate to one of the initial cases, which is considered a low risk exposure event, and nine workplace contacts of Case E, who works at McDonald's on Cavendish Drive, in Manukau. All are in isolation and have been or are being tested.
As at 8.00am today, a total of 31 close contacts and 1,476 casual-plus contacts have been identified at Papatoetoe High School. The number of casual-plus contacts has decreased as these people were not at school at the time of exposure.
Of the 31 school close contacts, 30 have returned negative results, with one positive result, announced on Wednesday.
Of the casual-plus contacts – consisting of other students and staff at Papatoetoe High School, where one of the initial cases attends - 1412 have returned negative results, one positive, and 63 results are pending.
“We do remind all students and staff at the school to please stay home and have a test if they haven’t already. School is expected to return on Monday February 22. Close contacts at the school will not return until they have been advised by public health that they can,” the Health Ministry said.
As part of the source investigation, LSG Sky Chef staff, where one of the initial cases works, have also been tested.
All nine contacts in the laundry have returned negative results. Of the 444 people in the wider working environment, 384 are negative and 59 results are pending including one positive, one of the initial cases.
Investigations will continue today into the second household group, including further interviews with contact tracing staff. A potential increase in the number of locations of interest, close and casual-plus contacts is not unexpected as a result.
Close contacts and close casual contacts will be prioritised for testing for health officials to understand any risk in the community.
Three other cases were detected at the border, including one historical case not deemed to be infectious.
One case arrived from India on February 13 via the United Arab Emirates, where they tested positive for Covid-19 on day 5.
The second case arrived in the country from the Netherlands via Singapore on February 16, where they tested positive on routine day 1 testing.
The third is a historical case who arrived from Indonesia via Singapore, where they tested positive on routine day 3 testing.
All three cases have since been transferred to quarantine facilities in Auckland and Christchurch.
It comes as 100 vaccinators will get the jab today before going on to vaccinate border workers from tomorrow. Twelve thousand border workers are in the first batch, and will be vaccinated over the next few months.
Auckland is in its second day at Alert Level 2 after an emergency three-day lockdown was lifted late on Wednesday following the reemergence of the coronavirus in a South Auckland household.